The Pendragon RPG contains its own list of references, but I’m not quite cultured enough to recognize all of these actual historic references. So instead of that, I’m making up a list of everything I thought of as something to read or watch as I was reading the RPG.
(FYI, typing “Pendragon RPG” all the time gets old, so I occasionally shortened it to KAP, which stands for King Arthur Pendragon, which may or may not be the official name of the RPG)
A Knight’s Tale
If you think a movie about jousting sounds like a perfect shoe-in for inspiration for a game about knights, you’re right. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this film, so it’s probably time I should watch it again.
In addition to all the hype about tournaments, there is also a love story which doesn’t entirely fit the standards of amor, but might lead players down that path.
There’s more common folk are equal to the nobles, which isn’t really supposed to be a thing in KAP.
Also of note, the knights in this movie are participating in tournaments as their only real duty. They aren’t being called on to defend the realm. I don’t know how useful that is to keep in mind, but I’ll mention it anyway.
About a year ago, I was reading the Elenium at work and wishing I had an RPG that could do knights. Well, then. Wish Granted.
David Eddings is one of my favorite Authors. In my top 10, at least. He has a couple of series set in medieval fantasy. The Elenium is centered around a few orders of knights templar that have to charge around the world, kicking ass and taking names.
Some of the knights are able to use minor magics, which is the one thing that KAP isn’t specced for, ATM. So that’s a concern. I can’t create a port right out of the box.
There are also parts of the Belgariad that could work with KAP. It’ll be a harder fit, because it’s mostly about the few magic users in the universe, as opposed to on-magic users. Still, there are some scenes with knights, and making moral choices is a crucial part of any adaptation of the Belgariad.
This is less of a standard media, and is actually an album (which might be a musical now? I need to investigate further…) The Trial of Lancelot is a series of songs about medieval tales, including a few about Arthur and his knights. You can learn a lot about chivalry from the titular song. Heather Dale has some other songs in a similar vein, but this album is centered around this topic.
Gawain and the Green knight is a great song, btw.
Another musician with a lot of medieval songs. I’m probably just going to make a playlist of all the songs that fit this genre. Particularly, thinking about Robin Hood and the Knight is top on my list, but there are more from that album that fit the theme.
I thought of this as I was writing the rest, but the Valdemar Universe has some things that could work. Actually, the Mercenary tales in the Oath series might be better served, but the Heralds could also be interesting. There are occasional moral quandaries, and a mount that is actually sentient as opposed to just a smart horse is odd, but I think there is inspiration there.
The Owlknight series might be better served, actually. IDK. It doesn’t fit horrible well, but I’ve been looking for a game to make fit Valdemar and this could work (the best choice would be 7th Sea, but I’ve lost my enthusiasm for that series. Get me a DMG, Chaosium, and we’ll talk. (I just remembered that the company that owns 7th Sea are the same people who do KAP, which is odd.))
Honestly, except for a few aesthetic differences, Star Wars could easily be a knight’s story. If a lightsaber added some damage resistance, just like a shield, it could work mechanically with no effort. Force powers are added to my list of magic spells.
The prequel trilogy definitely has people having to make moral choices and keep to a code of honor.
I’ve already started work on building Dragaera into KAP. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about some of the minor houses. But I know that one of the best stories of knighthood is the Phoenix Guards saga. You might need to read Jhereg and some of those books for universe context, but seriously, this is an amazing series. The only real snag is that Steven Brust mentioned that he didn’t find armor and knights as cool as cloaks and rapiers, so his stories are written from a slightly different angle. But still, there are some amazing things you can learn from this series.
Probably my favorite Young Adult author, the Kingdom of Tortall is a neat little universe. A Medieval fantasy, except a few years back, all sorts of mythical creatures came back from wherever they were residing. So instead of humans fighting humans, there’s now centaurs, giants, large spider creatures, etc that they have to deal with.
While the Alana the Lioness series is okay, it’s not my favorite. I absolutely love the Protector of the Small series, though, and it’s an amazing example of what knighthood should be. It’s core story is about the second female knight in the kingdom. The first tale was about a knight who concealed herself, but this is about a lady knight who deals with contempt by becoming the best of the best.
In the Protector of the Small, we get to see:
- Knights being Martial Adepts
- Knights as commanders of fighting groups
- Knights as stewards of their lands
- Knights dealing with bandits.
- Tournaments won and lost
- The relationship between knight and squire
- How to train in various ways to become a better knight
- The flexibleness of a simple magic item (griffin feathers)
And even more, besides.
There are users of magic in this universe, so having a system for that would be good for a broader campaign. But the effects themselves aren’t that broad. Off the top of my head, the effects that could be available for player use would be:
- Healing Magic (and creating healing salves)
- Animal transformation
- Beast Speech
- Fire at a distance
- Moving objects
I’m forcefully ending this list here, as I’ve been drifting from “This is what I thought when I was reading” into “These are things I can think of that are tangentially related to the topic,” which was not the point of this exercise.
If you have your own works of inspiration, please share them below!